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2023 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions Before NCAA Championship

2023 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions Before NCAA Championship

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 19: Cason Wallace #22 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Fieldhouse at Greensboro Coliseum on March 19, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament does not feature some of the elite prospects in this year’s NBA draft, such as French center Victor Wembanyama, G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, and Amen and Ausar Thompson of Overtime Elite.

However, March Madness did include a host of talents who could well find themselves chosen in the lottery portion of the draft.

Some of those players boosted their stocks with solid performances in March, whether it be in conference championships or the NCAA tournament.

With the Final Four looming Saturday evening, here’s a look at some of those players and a mock draft.

*Note that the NBA draft order won’t be decided until after the lottery, which takes place on May 16. Until then, teams currently outside the NBA playoff picture are sorted by win-loss record (worst-to-best) from No. 1 through No. 14 in this mock. The remaining 16 teams are sorted by win-loss record (worst-to-best) from No. 15 to No. 30.

2023 NBA Mock Draft

1. Detroit Pistons: C Victor Wembanyama (Metropolitans 92)

2. Houston Rockets: G Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite)

3. San Antonio Spurs: F Amen Thompson (Overtime Elite)

4. Charlotte Hornets: F Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite)

5. Portland Trail Blazers: F Brandon Miller (Alabama)

6. Orlando Magic: F Cam Whitmore (Villanova)

7. Indiana Pacers: F Jarace Walker (Houston)

8. Washington Wizards: G Cason Wallace (Kentucky)

9. Utah Jazz: F Gradey Dick (Kansas)

10. Dallas Mavericks: F Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State)

11. Orlando Magic (from Chicago Bulls): G Keyonte George (Baylor)

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: F Jett Howard (Michigan)

13. Toronto Raptors: G Anthony Black (Arkansas)

14. Utah Jazz (from Minnesota Timberwolves): G/F Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers)

15. Atlanta Hawks: C Kyle Filipowski (Duke)

16. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers): G Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas)

17. Los Angeles Lakers (from New Orleans Pelicans): F Dariq Whitehead (Duke)

18. Houston Rockets (from Los Angeles Clippers): F Taylor Hendricks (UCF)

19. Miami Heat: F Kris Murray (Iowa)

20. Golden State Warriors: C Dereck Lively II (Duke)

21. Brooklyn Nets: F GG Jackson (South Carolina)

22. Brooklyn Nets (from Phoenix Suns): G Colby Jones (Xavier)

23. Portland Trail Blazers (from New York Knicks): G/F Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers)

24. Sacramento Kings: G Terquavion Smith (NC State)

25. Indiana Pacers (from Cleveland Cavaliers): F Maxwell Lewis (Pepperdine)

26. Memphis Grizzlies: C Kel’El Ware (Oregon)

27. Charlotte Hornets (from Denver Nuggets): F Jalen Wilson (Kansas)

28. Utah Jazz (from Philadelphia 76ers): G Leonard Miller (G League Ignite)

29. Indiana Pacers (from Boston Celtics): F Julian Strawther (Gonzaga)

30. Los Angeles Clippers (from Milwaukee Bucks): G Marcus Sasser (Houston)

Draft order via Tankathon.

Kentucky G Cason Wallace

Kentucky guard Cason Wallace certainly had his rough stretches this season.

The 19-year-old went four games without making a three-pointer (0-of-16) in February. He had five turnovers and four fouls while being held scoreless in 22 minutes against Tennessee in January, punctuating a 53-minute stretch over three games when he scored just six points.

This wasn’t the easiest year for him, as Wallace dealt with back spasms and leg injuries numerous times.

However, Wallace gutted it out for the Wildcats and also showcased why he can be a great NBA player at his best.

This was most evident in Kentucky’s round-of-32 loss to Kansas State, when he dropped 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists.

Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba

Yeah man. Cason Wallace is dominating this game on both ends

Tristan Pharis @TristanUda

Cason Wallace. Warrior.

Cason consistently played through pain this season, and did so again yesterday, stepping up with Kentucky’s season on the line.

21 pts (9-11 FG), 9 rebs, 4 asts

“I was battling through everything, I just wanted to win. That’s all I could think of.”

Wallace has an All-Star ceiling thanks to his scoring, distributing and defensive skills. ShotQuality is particularly enamored with his passing:

ShotQuality @Shot_Quality

This season the bumps in the road seemed endless for Big Blue Nation, but as March comes closer and closer, Cason Wallace has shown he’s the real deal.

The projected lottery pick ranks in the 98th %ILE in AST%—had 9 big dimes against Auburn.

Draft Dummies even compared him to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star guard Jrue Holiday:

Draft Dummies @DraftDummies

The Jrue Holiday comp often gets overused in draft talk, but Cason Wallace’s closest statistical comp is UCLA Jrue. And Cason also just LOOKS like Jrue when you watch him.

Multiple teams projected in the mid-portion or back half of the lottery need guard help.

In this mock, Wallace lands with the Washington Wizards, which need an explosive playmaker and long-term solution at point guard.

Houston F Jarace Walker

Yes, Jarace Walker’s final college game featured him shooting just 4-of-16 from the field, but that shouldn’t discount an impressive year (and March) for him.

The 19-year-old swatted 15 shots in his final four games (AAC Championship, three NCAA tournament games). He averaged 13.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game over his last five contests. That included six blocks against Auburn in the round of 32 and four more against Miami in the Sweet 16.

The 6’8″, 240-pounder, who sports a 7’2″ wingspan, has Defensive Player of the Year potential in the NBA. There isn’t a shortage of analysts who love what he brings to the table on that end:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Jarace Walker brings tremendous defensive versatility at 6’7 with a chiseled frame, 7’2 wingspan, outstanding mobility and quickness getting off his feet. He guards all over the floor for Houston, showing terrific instincts jumping passing lanes or rotating to protect the rim.

Kevin O’Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

Jarace Walker stepped up in a massive way on defense, especially with Houston’s guards hurt and in foul trouble. Had 6 blocks, 10 rebounds, and only 7 points and 2 assists. But he’s one of those players who doesn’t need to score to help his team win.

Jonathan Alfano of ClutchPoints also noted Walker “has the potential to be a standout NBA defender right away, and still has plenty of room to grow.”

The Houston product should bring the energy, defensive effort and skill set right away. If he’s able to develop his offensive game along with that, he could become one of the deadliest two-way players in the game.

In this mock, Walker lands with the Indiana Pacers, a promising team that needs serious help on defense, where the team ranks in the bottom five in efficiency, per Walker can change that narrative. The Pacers may also need some frontcourt help with center Myles Turner set for free agency.

Kansas F Gradey Dick

Kansas freshman wing Gradey Dick dropped 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in the Jayhawks’ opening-round win over Howard.

The 19-year-old was quieter in an upset loss to Arkansas (seven points, seven rebounds), but his March performance was an overall positive mark his resume.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who lists Dick seventh on his latest big board, raved about what he saw in the first round.

“The 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists highlighted functional athleticism, shot-making versatility and passing that points to more upside than a traditional shooter. His bounce popped on a pair of putbacks. Assists off a drive-and-kick, an offensive board into a drop-off and a crosscourt dart highlighted Dick’s quick processing and IQ.”

It’s not common for first-year 6’8″ wings to shoot 40 percent from three-point range in a power conference, but Dick did just that for the Jayhawks, one of the best teams in the nation for much of the season.

He could easily become a 20-point per game scorer or better in the NBA, where he’ll have no trouble getting his shot off and can contribute on the glass as well.

As for a landing spot, the Jazz seem like a good choice, and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic made that case in his latest mock draft.

:”It’s hard to imagine a better fit in Utah’s offense, which is based around all sorts of off-ball movement and dribble-handoff actions,” he wrote. “Dick would be a nightmare to cover. He’s seen as a very likely lottery pick.”

Many mocks right now have him just above or below the end of the lottery at No. 14, but it’s possible Dick becomes a top-10 choice in this year’s draft.

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